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Launched in May of 2015, the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities put $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities. “At Google.org, we support organizations that offer innovative solutions to complex challenges. We’re thrilled to back UCP Wheels for Humanity as they help build a world that works for everyone,” said Brigitte Gosselink, Head of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. With a $1 million, three-year grant from Google.org, UCP Wheels for Humanity (UCP Wheels) will bring the voice of people with disabilities to the forefront in policy and philanthropy decisions. UCP Wheels is interested to know what really makes a difference in wheelchair users’ lives. Data from less-resourced countries on the performance, usage and benefits of wheelchairs provided by donors, aid agencies, and governments is difficult to collect and not broadly available. Since different chairs and clinical services are needed to accommodate the varying needs of people with disabilities, this data is crucial to ensure users have the best chair to maximize their health and independence. “This data will bring the voice of people with disabilities from around the world to the forefront on policy and philanthropy decision relating to the provision of wheelchairs” says Michael Allen, Executive Director of UCP Wheels for Humanity.

UCP Wheels is developing a system for gathering both subjective and objective data from users in less-resourced settings all over the world. UCP Wheels will use sensors to collect data on wheelchair usage patterns and environment, as well as SMS surveys to learn about user satisfaction and impacts on education, income, community participation and health. The combined data will provide key insights into which chairs are most effective in a range of conditions, users preferences and overall impacts.

Because thousands of wheelchair users in many countries will be involved, the project will reach an unprecedented scale. Through SMS surveys, even remote users will be able to submit a review of their chair in their own words – bringing their voice directly into the conversation on how best to serve their needs. This global wheelchair performance project aims to answer basic effectiveness questions and drive future funding to a problem that affects 70 million people worldwide.

About Google.org:

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, supports nonprofits that innovate to address humanitarian issues. Google.org was created to pursue, experiment with, and build upon ideas to improve the world, and continues to take an iterative approach to philanthropy today. Google.org develops and invests in pursuits that can have measurable impact on local, regional and global issues, and rallies Google’s people in support of these efforts with a singular goal of creating a better world, faster.

About the Google Impact Challenge Disabilities:

Launched in May of 2015, the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities (g.co/disabilities) committed $20 million in Google.org grants behind nonprofits using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities.

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